• ‘Thank you, Johan, for everything that you did for Holland and for me; as a player he was 20 years ahead in the things he did’ – says fellow Dutch star Ruud Gullit
  • ‘The word great is often overused, but not when you talk about Johan Cruyff’ – says World Cup winner and Laureus Academy Member Marcel Desailly
  • Djokovic, Williams, Spieth, Lauda, Carter and All Blacks among other winners as global TV audience watches Laureus Awards Ceremony in Berlin
  • TV News Access and Web Edit links at end of press release

BERLIN, April 18, 2016 – The Laureus World Sports Academy has paid tribute to Dutch football genius Johan Cruyff who died last month, honouring him at the Laureus World Sports Awards in Berlin.

The Cruyff family received a special posthumous Laureus Spirit of Sport Award to celebrate his life. It was presented to son Jordi Cruyff by another Dutch football legend, Laureus Ambassador Ruud Gullit.

Gullit said: “I want to thank Johan for being an inspiration and putting Holland on the map. He made me the football player that I became. Thank you, Johan, for everything that you did for Holland and for me. As a player he was 20 years ahead in the things he did. I want to thank him for making me a Total Football player.

Laureus World Sports Academy Chairman Edwin Moses said: “It was planned that Johan should have received the Award in person, but sadly he died unexpectedly from the lung cancer with which he was suffering. His loss was a tragedy for millions of football fans who enjoyed seeing him play in the flesh, or on television and video. It is impossible to overstate the impact he made on football and sport. His legacy truly will live for ever. He represented everything that was good about sport.”

In an era of cautious tactics, Cruyff’s Holland broke the mould, playing with an open attacking style which became known as Total Football. Later, as coach at FC Barcelona in the late 1980s and early ‘90s, his vision and energy laid the foundations that were to make the club pre-eminent in football.

France’s World Cup winner and Laureus Academy Member Marcel Desailly said: “The word great is often overused, but not when you talk about Johan Cruyff. The Total Football that he played with Ajax, Barcelona and Holland was revolutionary and excited a generation of players and fans. As a coach with Barcelona, he laid the foundations for the greatness of that club today.”

On a glittering evening in Berlin that recognised the outstanding sporting achievements of 2015, Serena Williams celebrated winning a record-equalling fourth Laureus World Sports Award, while Novak Djokovic won his third Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award.

Golfer Jordan Spieth won the Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award, while triple Formula One world champion Niki Lauda, now Non-Executive Chairman of the Mercedes AMG Petronas team, received the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Laureus Academy named the recipient of the Laureus Sport for Good Award: Moving the Goalposts, a community sports project which uses football to empower girls in Kenya.

The Laureus World Sports Awards are the premier honours on the international sporting calendar.   The winners are chosen by the Laureus World Sports Academy, the ultimate sports jury, made up of more than 50 of the greatest living sportsmen and sportswomen.

The Laureus World Sports Awards supports Laureus Sport for Good by showcasing the incredible work it does to transform the lives of individuals and communities around the world by using the power of sport as a tool to combat challenging social issues. Since its inception, Laureus Sport for Good has raised over €100 million and supported over 150 projects worldwide which use sport to tackle violence, discrimination and disadvantage. Laureus Sport for Good has helped to improve the lives of millions of young people in over 35 countries and is proving that sport can change the world.  

The Laureus World Sports Awards Ceremony, hosted by Hollywood actor Bill Murray at the Messe Berlin Palais am Funkturm, is broadcast to 160 countries.

Laureus World Sports Awards were announced in seven categories.

Laureus World Sportsman of the Year: Novak Djokovic

Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year: Serena Williams

Laureus World Team of the Year: All Blacks

Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year: Jordan Spieth

Laureus World Comeback of the Year: Dan Carter

Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability: Daniel Dias

Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year: Jan Frodeno

There were three additional Award winners: the Laureus Spirit of Sport Award was presented posthumously to legendary Dutch footballer Johan Cruyff, who died last month; the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award was given to three-time Formula One world champion Niki Lauda and the Laureus Sport for Good Award went to Kenya’s Moving the Goalposts football project.

For full biographies of Winners and Nominees go to

Three new members were welcomed to the Laureus World Sports Academy during the Awards Ceremony – German skier Maria Höfl-Riesch, Spanish football legend Raul and Irish rugby star Brian O’Driscoll.

Members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, Ambassadors and other guests present in Berlin, included: Boris Becker, Oliver Bierhoff, Ole Bischof, Stefan Blöcher, Fredi Bobic, Marie Bochet, Ian Botham, Martin Braxenthaler, Bob Burnquist, Flavio Canto, Cafu, Nadia Comaneci, David Coulthard, Liu Cuiqing, Alessandro Del Piero, Deng Yaping, Marcel Desailly, Kapil Dev, Genzebe Dibaba, Mick Doohan, Morné du Plessis, Pieter du Preez, Omara Durand, Mick Fanning, Luis Figo, Anna Fenninger, Sean Fitzpatrick, Cathy Freeman, Jan Frodeno, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Bryan Habana, Anthony Joshua Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Mika Hakkinen, Regina Halmich, Lewis Hamilton, Maria Höfl-Riesch, Chris Hoy, Nadine Kessler, Kip Keino, Chloe Kim, Christa Kinshofer, Franz Klammer, Philip Köster, Nia Künzer, Niki Lauda, Jens Lehmann, Tegla Loroupe, Joachim Löw, Garrett McNamara, Edwin Moses, Robby Naish, Ilie Nastase, Alexey Nemov, Brian O’Driscoll, Victoria Pendleton, Hugo Porta, Carles Puyol, Raul, Steve Redgrave, Jamie Redknapp, Markus Rehm, Nico Rosberg, David Rudisha, Anna Schaffelhuber, Axel Schulz, Daley Thompson, Pascal Wehrlein, Steve Waugh, Katarina Witt, Toto Wolff, Kathi Wörndl.


About Us

Laureus is a universal movement that celebrates the power of sport to bring people together as a force for good. Laureus is composed of three core elements - the Laureus World Sports Academy, Laureus Sport for Good and the Laureus World Sports Awards - which collectively celebrate sporting excellence and use sport as the means to promote social change. The first Patron of Laureus was Nelson Mandela. At the inaugural Laureus World Sports Awards in 2000, he said: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.” This has become the philosophy of Laureus; the driving force behind its work. The members of the Laureus World Sports Academy are: Giacomo Agostini, Marcus Allen, Franz Beckenbauer, Boris Becker, Ian Botham, Sergey Bubka, Cafu, Bobby Charlton, Sebastian Coe, Nadia Comaneci, Yaping Deng, Marcel Desailly, Kapil Dev, Mick Doohan, David Douillet, Rahul Dravid, Luis Figo, Emerson Fittipaldi, Sean Fitzpatrick (Chairman), Dawn Fraser, Cathy Freeman, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Mika Häkkinen, Tony Hawk, Maria Höfl-Riesch, Mike Horn, Miguel Indurain, Michael Johnson, Kip Keino, Franz Klammer, Tegla Loroupe, Dan Marino, Yao Ming, Edwin Moses, Nawal El Moutawakel, Li Na, Robby Naish, Ilie Nastase, Martina Navratilova, Alexey Nemov, Jack Nicklaus, Brian O’Driscoll, Alessandro Del Piero, Gary Player, Morné du Plessis, Hugo Porta, Carles Puyol, Raúl, Steve Redgrave, Vivian Richards, Monica Seles, Mark Spitz, Sachin Tendulkar, Daley Thompson, Alberto Tomba, Steve Waugh, Katarina Witt, Li Xiaopeng and Yang Yang. The Laureus Academy Members volunteer their services as global ambassadors for Laureus Sport for Good, which was set up to promote the use of sport as a tool for social change. Laureus Sport for Good addresses social challenges through a worldwide programme of sports related community development initiatives. Since its inception, Laureus has raised over €100 million for projects which have helped to improve the lives of millions of young people. The mission of Laureus Sport for Good is to use sport as a means to combat some of the toughest social challenges facing young people today such as violence and crime, discrimination, unemployment, lack of education and health threats including HIV/AIDS and obesity. The Laureus World Sports Awards is the premier global sports awards honouring the greatest sportsmen and women across all sports each year. The winners are selected by the ultimate sports jury – 60 members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, the living legends of sport honouring the great athletes of today. The Awards are presented at an annual Awards Ceremony, attended by global figures from sport and entertainment, which is broadcast to 160 countries and territories. The Awards continue to support Laureus Sport for Good by showcasing the incredible work it does with athletes and partners to transform the lives of individuals and promoting to a global audience the power of sport as a development tool to combat challenging social issues. Laureus was founded by its Patrons Richemont and Daimler and is supported by its Global Partners Mercedes-Benz and IWC Schaffhausen. Mercedes-BenzMercedes-Benz is the inventor of the automobile – and has been passionately shaping its future since 1886. As pioneers in automotive engineering, it is both our inspiration and responsibility to continue the tradition of the brand with trailblazing technologies and high-quality products. Like no other trademark in the automotive world, Mercedes-Benz appeals to both the hearts and minds of its customers. We give our very best for customers who expect the very best. Since the founding fathers Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz, our corporate history has been one of innovation and pioneering achievements. Many technical innovations that are nowadays standard in automobiles first entered the market in a Mercedes-Benz. This is the basis for our claim to leadership in automotive engineering. The brand stands for Modern Luxury, and enjoys an outstanding reputation for quality, safety, comfort, design and comprehensive, sustainable mobility. IWC SchaffhausenWith a clear focus on technology and development, the Swiss watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen has been producing timepieces of lasting value since 1868. The company has gained an international reputation based on a passion for innovative solutions and technical ingenuity. One of the world’s leading brands in the luxury watch segment, IWC crafts masterpieces of haute horlogerie at their finest, combining supreme precision with exclusive design. As an ecologically and socially responsible company, IWC is committed to sustainable production, supports institutions around the globe in their work with children and young people and maintains partnerships with organisations dedicated to climate and environmental protection.